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Ryan Turek, Editor-in-Chief of Shock Till You Drop and good chum of ours, has been hard at work. Between his upcoming Hellraiser doc and his Scream documentary, Still Screaming: The Ultimate Scary Movie Retrospective, debuting, this is a gent who hasn’t let any grass grow under his feet.
And we were lucky enough to jabber with him, at great length, about the weird, wild experience of turning the Scream franchise’s story into an engaging feature film, featuring Wes Craven, Neve Campbell, Liev Schreiber, Henry Winkler, Matthew Lillard, Jamie Kennedy, Laurie Metcalf, Parker Posey, Scott Foley and many others.
I think we’ll take the “On:” format for this one. Cool?
And a ONE and a TWO and a…
ON “WHY SCREAM?”
“Obviously the first Scream definitely held a lot of strength in my eyes. I was there in film school, New York, in ’96 when it first came out. You know – ‘slasher movie!’ And it’s a terrific send-up of a slasher film. It was also refreshing and new, but what compelled me to do the documentary was, it wasn’t just the first film – it was the stories behind the scenes of the entire trilogy. Because once Scream came out in ’96, I was completely fixed. I wanted to know about Scream 2. Scream 2 kind of hit when the internet was booming, you know? Everybody was on message boards, on these kind of old rinky dink horror movie websites’ message boards talking about spoilers and what was gonna happen, and people were leaking pages of the script, which is one of the first times I’d ever seen that happen. And it greatly affected the production as well! By the time Scream 3 came out, you had movies like The Blair Witch Project and The Sixth Sense kind of raking in big bucks. It was like everybody was going ‘Scream what? Scream who?’ Horror was changing so much, and I was and I’m still fascinated by the series at that point, so I was always curious to see how Scream 3 would handle horror at that point. And Scream 3 is what is it is (laughs), but then I think there is a fascinating story behind it, because (writer) Williamson wasn’t available and all he did was leave them with a treatment, and they had to pull up this new writer Ehren Kruger…and it just sounded like a complete disaster – and trainwrecks like that always make for fascinating behind-the-scenes stories!”
ON TACKLING SUCH A PROJECT
“Well…(laughs), I was fairly confident with how I wanted to approach it. On (the) Hellraiser (doc), I was just going to be the writer. That’s a massive undertaking in and of itself because ‘cause you’re not encompassing three movies, you’re looking at eight – or NINE, now – and I was like, well, [we had a] director at the time, ‘He’s got the vision handled, I’ll just write.’ [Writer’s note: Ryan has since taken over directorial duties on the Hellraiser doc]. And when [Still Screaming] came up, it was like ‘Okay, you’re gonna do this – GO!’ And I’m like ‘Holy crap – I know the story that needs to be told, I know the questions I need to ask and who I wanna speak to, but ‘what do I wanna do to make this kinda stand apart from the pack?’ You know, ‘what kind of look do I wanna give it, what do I want for background?’ I had to start thinking visually, and I kind of sketch and illustrate once in a while – that’s my background while I was in middle school, I used to illustrate all the time and that carried through to high school and college and I just sort of like sketching things out visually what I want to see.”
ON RAISING THE DOC’S CURTAIN, SCREAM STYLE
Writer’s note: Too many spoilers here for something that sounds way too fun to spoil. Just know that Turek busted his ass to make this thing as entertaining as possible.
ON HIS ORIGINAL VISION vs. THE FINAL PRODUCT
“I love to be fully prepared for everything. I love to outline – really break it down and the kind of beats that I want to get into. What I originally outlined was pretty lengthy. And it got really fan-boy specific. Where I was I was thinking ‘I wanna know this and I wanna know that!’ I was making beats in an outline, thinking ‘This is gonna be the section where we specifically talk about the sequence at the end of Scream where Neve Campbell falls out the window and she runs over to a barn or she’s running from some place, and I’m like ‘There looks like there’s a missing scene there, or we MUST get behind that missing scene and what is it about?’ Then I talk to Wes Craven and he’s like ‘No, I was just cheating. I needed something for her to run THIS way and instead she ran THAT way.’ I was like, ‘Oh! Well, there goes that portion of the outline!’ Sometimes, the things you play up in your mind to be you think are gonna be super-big are not that big at all. And you’ve really just got to get to the meat of it. You’ve gotta find out what’s the most interesting thing that you can tell within this certain span of time. Granted there’s a lot of deleted stuff that we’re gonna eventually have [on the DVD] – just anecdotal stories – but they’re not anything that’s worth your time, so looking at the large outline, which I was doing, and looking at the final product, it’s changed a lot. And I have to thank our editor Monica for delivering the harsh truth. I’d come in on a day and say ‘What do we got?’ and she’d say ‘Well, we had to cut this story.’ I’d be like ‘NO!’ But when you’d watch [a delete scene], it disrupts the flow of things. ‘Why am I going from this story to a silly aside?’
ON THE WILLIAMSON ABSENCE
”We were going to really tell the Kevin Williamson story. Unfortunately, Kevin didn’t make himself available, so I’m left going ‘Okay, you’re gonna take a backseat in this film,’ which kind of sucked… We tried to get him, and at every turn we got a polite ‘no, thanks.’ So there’s nothing I could really do.”
ON OTHER NOTABLY UNFORTUNATE ABSENCES
“Yeah, I speak to [and] use a site called Scream Trilogy they have a great fan forum on their message boards. And a lot of people ask me ‘Where’s Skeet Ulrich and where’s Sarah Michelle Gellar?’ And the truth of the matter is, we went out to EVERYBODY. We went out to everybody in the series. Jada Pinkett Smith, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Skeet Ulrich… But there’s just people that didn’t wanna do it. You can’t really press them, because if you press them then you look too desperate – you look like an asshole! But we tried repeatedly to get Skeet and Skeet was on a TV show. And then, I believe, a couple of days after that TV show got canned, I kind of politely checked in with his reps again to see if he would have the time to do it, but…a lot of it was scheduling. Well, a lot of it was just disinterest! You know, Sarah Michelle Gellar had absolutely NO interest, I think. Her people were, like, immediately ‘No. No, thank you.’ And I was like, ‘okay.’ Jada Pinkett Smith sounded interested, but she was travelling – she was like halfway around the world. Drew Barrymore was receptive, but she was up in Alaska, and we said ‘We’ll come to Alaska!’ And we were fully prepared to! We were fully prepared to go meet her in Alaska, but she just wanted to focus on her film. Then when she got back, we had a great dialogue with her people, and it just a matter of she is just crazy busy and she is just unavailable right now. So a lot of it you can chalk up to people not being available and some of it you can just chalk it up to people just not being interested in recounting anything about the series – which, again, is unfortunate.”
ON “MEETING” THE VOICE OF GHOSTFACE, ROGER JACKSON
“Roger was incredibly cool. People have said that he didn’t want to be on camera. I guess he’s based up in northern California, and we were like ‘well, we’ll come out.’ And he’s done an interview for E! Hollywood Story about a decade ago, and the way they handled it was they did the old 60 Minutes veiled interview where the interviewee is darkened and the background is all lit up so you can’t see their face. They did that for him so you couldn’t see his face, because he wants to remain a mystery. He doesn’t want anyone to know what he looks like. Because when he calls [all] the actors on Scream, they don’t see what he looks like. Neve Campbell’s never met him face-to-face. He’s always somewhere else on the phone. So he likes that – he likes to remain anonymous. So I anticipated doing the same thing [for the interview], but he agreed to just doing a phone interview, so I did a phone interview and I was like, ‘well, visually, I’ll have to figure out how to make this work,’ and we did. But when I got [Jackson’s] call on a weekday afternoon, he called me in full Ghostface voice (laughs). I just picked the phone and was like ‘Hello?’ and he’s ‘Is this Ryan?…’ I was like ‘HOLY SHIT!’ And then ‘What’s your favorite scary movie, Ryan?’ I was scrambling trying to get my recorder going! He was absolutely great – he’s got some great stories to tell. His stories on 1 were great and his stories on 2 harassing Sarah Michelle Gellar were even better. It was fun!”
ON INTERVIEWING THE CLOAKED CRAZIES
“We were even able to go behind the mask to the guys who played Ghostface – the guys that are actually running around and tripping and falling. We tracked down a guy named Dane Farwell who was the stunt performer – he was all through 1 and he was in 4 as well. These guys are just seasoned stunt performers and I think this is the first time that any of them have ever come out and spoken about it. Dane was originally apprehensive because he didn’t want to give away the illusion that it was not Skeet Ulrich or Matthew Lillard in the first film in that Ghostface costume. He didn’t want to take that away from them. He was like ‘Oh, I don’t really want people to know that was me.’ I was like ‘NO!’ That would be like Kane Hodder saying ‘I don’t want people to know I’m not Jason.’ And it took a little bit of convincing. I said ‘Dude, people DO care about the kind of craft that goes behind creating a cool onscreen villain, and Ghostface does have his little quirks.’ He does have his little motions and he wipes his blade off every time he kills somebody… And the fans wanna know the stories that go behind those [motions]. Brian Avery, who played Ghostface in 3 had some equally great stories, from killing Jenny McCarthy to doubling for David Arquette during some of the stunt scenes.”
ON WES CRAVEN’S INCLUSION
“Wes was incredibly cool about sitting down in a chair not just to tell you about the first film – which I’m sure he’s tired of discussing – but all three. We got to hour two in the chair and he’s like ‘Let’s just finish this up, let’s get this going. Let’s cover ‘em all and get all the bases covered.’ So he was very honest and open and he was great.”
Turek humbly insists that he just hopes the documentary “doesn’t disappoint”, but something tells us that’s a non-issue. Check back here soon for updates on Turek’s expansive Hellraiser project!
For more check out the Still Screaming: The Ultimate Scary Movie Retrospective Facebook page.
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